Sleep Deprivation? Is it real? Is it true? Is it important?
Yes, it is real, it is true and it is very important. As moms, most of us have been sleep deprived at one time or another.... like when a new baby arrives and needs to eat every 3 hours.... or during times of stress to finish a project or a job.... or during an emergency... or other times. After the crisis is over, we tend to sleep to "catch up" on the sleep we lost.... and life goes on.
College kids sometimes feel like they thrive on being sleep deprived, and pulling all nighters gives certain "bragging rights" and seems to demonstrate invincibility. There's a certain admiration that can come from waiting till the last minute and then staying up all night long.... to "study". We all know that sometimes it's not all study and sometimes the "need" to stay up is only because of procrastination..... but we are young in college and we can handle it..... extra caffeine in the form of coffee or soda can help make it through the night... and the next day.
A new baby in the house leaves parents perpetually tired.... and a toddler in the house can leave a parent ... perpetually tired.... and teens in the house can leave a parent perpetually tired..... and after a while that tiredness feels normal.... and we become used to tiredness... to being sleep deprived. It is hard, but sometimes we take a nap, get some extra sleep... and continue on and it is no big deal, right?
God does say things about sleep... and He gives His beloved sleep...
Our human nature can be so prideful... we can be so out of balance. Work is a good thing, caring for our family is a good thing, working hard is a good thing... sleep is also a good thing, and it is necessary.
As I have shared before, I have adrenal fatigue issues and have to be careful.... and I have been learning just how important sleep is... and one of the frustrating problems with adrenal fatigue/exhaustion is that though the body desperately NEEDS sleep, sleep is hard to come by. The body can become UNABLE to sleep well. We do pay a price eventually.
There can also be long term consequences to sleep deprivation... things that don't go away after a few early nights or naps.
As a young woman in college, I did the study hard, lose sleep thing... pulling all nighters at times. Since vacation times were short and making the time at home last longer (12 hours away)... we travelled at night many times. I juggled study and work and pushed myself. One summer, to help pay my college tuition, I worked 2 jobs back to back.... 8 hours each, so 16 hours straight... and sometimes more than 5 days a week. On the night job, an old gruff security officer stopped in each night and chastised me... saying, "You're going to hurt your health." Well, I was young and foolish and feeling invincible...and I continued on. I felt I had to ... to pay the bills.
After college, my parents had moved and were then 21 hours away, SO I drove to see them once or twice a year. Since I was still paying college bills... and was frugal, I drove straight through to avoid hotel costs. Like I said... the foolishness of youth.
After I got married and we had children, there were those responsibilities to make me tired, but I did well with it... and continued on. Our second son was born with severe medical problems and needed LOTS of care... all of the time... and I had a toddler at the time also.... and I started to learn what exhaustion was.... that exhaustion went on for years... we could not leave son #2 with a babysitter... only a registered nurse trained in trach care could watch him and that wasn't available, so we did what we had to do.... and so on. Do I regret that? NO NO NO... what a blessing all of my children are... and my husband... I am blessed. I do regret; however, not putting a bit more emphasis on my health- especially my sleep, over the years.
After a while, the constant sleep interrruptions became so normal... and my husband's job schedule changed a few times, so that my body never could settle into a good pattern for sleeping. When I woke in the night, I learned not to lay in bed for hours watching the clock, but instead I would get up, have time with the Lord, write, do lesson plans, make a list, etc. It was easier to just start the day, than to work so hard to sleep more - especially when there was a sick child or Son #2's alarms would go off frequently in the night. My body ended up never really sleeping deeply. I worried that I was getting Alzheimer's or something since I couldn't remember words... I couldn't even think how to say "refrigerator" one time... and had to take my husband to the kitchen and point out the thing I was talking about. That was scary... but it wasn't Alzheimer's... it was sleep deprivation. After more concentrated rest, that was gone.
Did you know that some of the consequences of sleep deprivation can be:
-impaired memory and cognitive thinking
-higher risk of injuries
-higher risk of car accidents
-genetic changes affecting the body- including heart problems and obesity
-stresses on relationships
They say that driving while sleep deprived can make you just as dangerous as a person driving drunk. That is scary.... response time slows down, nodding off happens, and more.
Maybe you think that you are not sleep deprived... and maybe you are not.... I hope that is true. However, it is good to do a little research and also evaluate your life. They say that while losing sleep for one night won't seriously hurt you... losing sleep for a week of nights CAN be a bigger problem....after just 7 days or so.
Maybe you are just a little sleepy sometimes during the day... or a bit grouchy... maybe forgetful.... or extra hungry.... or sluggish... or other things... they can ALL be symptoms of sleep deprivation... and that CAN hurt you.
I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on this subject... I am just someone who has studied it and is trying to recover from effects of ignoring it. This is a "heads up" post.... maybe you can see that you are not at your best and that you have shorted your sleep. Whether it seems to bother you or not... it is a dangerous path to take and I encourage you to think about it. There is a lot of information on the subject.... and I will be addressing more in the 2nd post of this series. I hope you will return and see if it can be of any use to you.
Thank you for joining me. I hope that now you are able to answer the question.... Are You Sleep Deprived?
Part 2 of the series is here..... Yes, I'm Sleep Deprived, So What?
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